In a bizarre twist, a Florida teacher who was named "Teacher of the Year" by her school was arrested two days later for allegedly physically abusing one of her students for criticizing her in an Instagram comment.
According to NBC News, Caroline Lee was named Teacher of the Year at Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts in Duval County. By winning the school-wide award, Lee became a nominee for Teacher of the Year for all of Duval County. When the school district announced Lee's nomination on its Instagram page, a student, who has not been named because she is a minor, asked in a comment whether Lee was the teacher who had used the N-word in class the previous year.
According to the New York Post, Lee later admitted to school administrators that she had used the word in class, but only during the course of quoting a book written by John Steinbeck.
Lee responded to the student's question by demanding that the student meet with her in Lee's office. The student apparently told police that she was too terrified to meet with Lee in her office, so Lee allegedly came and pulled the student out of another class she was attending and demanded that the student follow her alone to her classroom. According to an affidavit filed by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, surveillance footage from the school showed the teacher walking ahead of the student "at an aggressive pace."
According to the student, Lee then asked the student why she threatened her, and when the student replied that she had not, Lee struck her "with an open palm" across the face. According to the student, Lee then repeatedly called her a "f***ing bitch" while striking her repeatedly on the top of the head, and then also kicked her in the leg. According to police, surveillance footage then showed the student leaving Lee's classroom "holding her face" and going straight to the guidance counselor, who observed that she had a bloody nose.
Lee denied having struck the student, but could not explain the student's bloody nose. In an email to parents, the school's principal notes, "The teacher has been removed from the classroom and will not return, pending the judicial and internal procedures."
Lee did not return requests for comment from multiple other media outlets.